The Q&A Archives: The ole saying is "You get what you pay for" right ?

Question: I have bought some very cheap potting soil. 40 lb. for 1.97. I've planted all kinds of house plants and repotted plants with it, planted my Topsy Turvy and the great pepper plant with it. But I used a couple of bags that after planting and watering the next day it reminded me of concrete. It is very hard. Now my outside stuff is doing o.k. but what can I add to change it. Sue Parker

Answer: Sounds like bargain basement prices! Possibly swept up from the bargain basement floor? By law your potting soil must contain organic matter and sand, but if it hardens after drying it probably has a high percentage of milled peat dust or sawdust. Once peat dries out it is very difficult to rewet. If you still have some of the potting soil you can improve it by mixing in equal parts of sphagnum peat, compost and builder's sand, and adding a quart of perlite for good measure. If you've already used it in the garden, you can mulch around your plants with compost and dig it into the soil a little. The compost should work its way down into the potting soil and at the very least, help slow evaporation. For your houseplants, you may want to unpot them, improve the potting soil with the above recipe and repot them. Good luck with your garden!

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